Member only
Episode
208

A History of James Bond

Nov 5, 2021
Arts & Culture
-
23
minutes
Film & Cinema
Life in the UK
Business
Weird history
Literature
The Cold War
Pronunciation

He is the most famous spy in the world and has been drinking vodka martinis and driving fast cars since 1952.

In this episode, we'll look at the history of 007, his creator Ian Fleming, how Bond has changed over the years, and the fascinating family business behind the UK's most famous special agent.

Continue learning

Get immediate access to a more interesting way of improving your English
Become a member
Already a member? Login
Subtitles will start when you press 'play'
You need to subscribe for the full subtitles
Already a member? Login
Download transcript & key vocabulary pdf
Download transcript & key vocabulary pdfDownload transcript & key vocabulary pdfDownload transcript only available after your trial

Transcript

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about James Bond. 

[00:00:27] Now, you have probably seen some of the movies, you may have read some of the books, but today we are going to go a little bit deeper into the story of this iconic British spy.

[00:00:40] We’ll talk about how James Bond got started, and the life and times of the author of the James Bond novels, Ian Fleming.

[00:00:49] We’ll then talk about the films, how not only the James Bond actors have changed over the years and for what reasons, but also the character of James Bond.

[00:01:00] We’ll also talk about the unusual business of James Bond, and how, although it is a huge, multinational franchise and its films are shown in countries all over the world, the production is controlled by a small family, it’s essentially a family business.

[00:01:19] And finally, because this is after all a show about English, we’ll talk about the language of James Bond, the various different accents he has had, and also how he speaks various foreign languages to different degrees.

[00:01:35] OK then, Bond, James Bond.

[00:01:39] When you hear the name “James Bond”, a certain image probably comes to mind.

[00:01:46] For many it might be a man in a smart tuxedo, a black dinner jacket. He might be sitting at a card table, he might be holding a gun, he might be about to seduce an elegant woman or about to jump out of an aeroplane.

[00:02:04] He is undoubtedly handsome, and likely has a certain type of rugged, a rough look, as if he has known danger.

[00:02:15] The exact image you have in mind probably depends on your age, and is due to the actor who played James Bond when you were growing up.

[00:02:26] But the real James Bond, who James Bond was really meant to be, was the creation of Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series of books.

[00:02:38] Ian Fleming was, in many ways, a quintessential upper-class Englishman. 

[00:02:44] Born in 1907, he came from a very rich family, and was educated at Eton, the most famous private school in the country and the school that countless Kings, Prime Ministers, and other members of the royal family went to.

[00:03:02] After serving in the Naval Intelligence Division in the Second World War, he developed a knowledge of how British Intelligence services worked.

[00:03:12] After the end of the war, he worked in journalism, but longed to write a spy novel.

[00:03:19] He started work on his first one in February 1952, an idea that was to become Casino Royale, his first novel, his first hit, and the start of the most successful spy franchise in world history.

[00:03:37] Much like many books that we now consider to be huge successes, the first James Bond novel wasn’t an immediate hit with the publishers. Fleming was advised to publish it under a pseudonym, under a pen name, to avoid personal embarrassment

[00:03:57] It was only after the intervention of Fleming’s brother, who was a relatively successful author, that a publisher finally agreed to publish it. It was so successful that three different print runs had to be made, it was evident that Fleming was on to something.

[00:04:17] He continued to write the adventures of James Bond, publishing 14 separate adventures of this iconic British spy.

[00:04:26] Fleming’s creation was, in many ways, very different from the James Bond that you might be imagining from the James Bond films.

[00:04:37] In the James Bond books, yes James Bond is the protagonist but the character James Bond is less developed than he is in some of the films. 

[00:04:48] To quote Fleming directly, “exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure—an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.”

[00:05:04] The James Bond of the novels was a machine, a blank canvas, the reader saw the adventures through his eyes, but there was little examination of the character of the protagonist.

[00:05:19] This was, interestingly enough, why his name was chosen to be James Bond.

[00:05:25] You may know that both James and Bond are relatively common names in Britain. 

[00:05:33] Fleming chose these two common names for his main character precisely because he wanted him to blend into the background, to be anonymous against the backdrop of the adventures he was living.

[00:05:48] To quote Fleming again, "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find”.

[00:05:56] The James Bond of the Bond novels was also much more aggressive, fighting, drinking, smoking, he was very different to the James Bond played by someone like Pierce Brosnan, for example.

[00:06:12] The novels did bring Ian Fleming success and fame, but they didn’t really translate into the great riches that many might think.

[00:06:23] He sold the film rights to his first book, Casino Royale, for $1,000, today’s equivalent of around $10,000, and later sold the rights to all of his books except Casino Royale for $50k. 

[00:06:41] That’s today’s equivalent of about half a million dollars, so certainly not bad at all, but a pretty raw deal when you consider that the James Bond franchise has now generated around $14 billion on an inflation-adjusted basis, and almost everyone involved in them at a high level made considerably more money than Ian Fleming, the creator of the character.

[00:07:10] Fleming died in 1964, at the age of 56. Like his most famous creation, he had been a heavy drinker and smoker all of his adult life, and died of a heart attack after a large meal.

[00:07:27] His reported last words were very English, he said to the paramedics in the ambulance, "I am sorry to trouble you, chaps. I don't know how you get along so fast with the traffic on the roads these days."

[00:07:42] Now, Fleming died just as the Bond franchise was getting going, but not before he had had the opportunity to see the first film adaptation of his creation, the 1962 movie Dr No, with Sean Connery as James Bond.

[00:08:00] Although many Bond fans would argue that Sean Connery is James Bond, and that he is the best actor to have ever been 007, when he was first suggested for the part Fleming was not convinced.

[00:08:16] For starters, Sean Connery is Scottish, and speaks with a Scottish accent.

[00:08:23] The character James Bond did have a Scottish father and a Swiss mother, but the novels have him growing up in England, going to the same school that Fleming attended, Eton, and living in England. 

[00:08:38] Fleming’s Bond was decidedly English, and the idea that a Scottish actor would play him was concerning to Fleming.

[00:08:49] Secondly, at least before the film was released and Sean Connery was catapulted to stardom, he was not considered to be a sophisticated, suave gentleman.

[00:09:02] Connery was tall, muscly, and had actually been an amateur bodybuilder in his home country. He was a relatively unknown actor, and he didn’t look at all like how Fleming had imagined Bond when he was creating the character.

[00:09:20] However, after the auditions, and after seeing him in action Fleming’s mind was changed, and Connery’s sex appeal and deep voice was enough to convince Fleming that this man could pass as the English spy.

[00:09:36] As you probably know, Connery’s performance was very well received, he went on to play James Bond another five times, and for anyone growing up in the 1960s, Sean Connery simply was James Bond.

[00:09:53] Since Sean Connery a total of 5 different actors have played James Bond in the James Bond films, and six actors if you include David Niven, the actor who played James Bond in the TV adaptation of Casino Royale in 1967.

[00:10:11] They all have their different quirks, their different characteristics, and the actors interpreted the character of James Bond differently.

[00:10:21] Roger Moore, for example, who played 007 from 1973 until 1985, for a total of 7 movies, played a slightly comical, tongue-in-cheek Bond, one who cracked jokes and was never particularly serious. He was also a much older James Bond - he was 57 during the filming of his last Bond film, A View To A Kill.

[00:10:49] The Irishman Pierce Brosnan, who played Bond from 1995 to 2002 brought back a slick Bond, but by the final films critics complained about too much product placement and completely unrealistic special effects.

[00:11:08] Then there is Daniel Craig, the actor who has played James Bond since Casino Royale in 2006, and whose last Bond film, No Time To Die, was released in Autumn of 2021. He was greatly influenced by Sean Connery’s performance as Bond, and brought back a complicated character full of his own demons.

[00:11:33] Seasoned Bond fans will note I haven’t mentioned George Lazenby or Timothy Dalton here, but they only made three films between them, and rarely come top of anyone’s list of the greatest or most influential actors to have played James Bond.

[00:11:50] We can see, through the different actors who have played 007, how society and culture has changed over the past 70 years.

[00:12:00] The initial James Bond character of the novels was a hard-living man of the 1950s with views and behaviour we would probably consider misogynistic and backward.

[00:12:14] He would smoke up to 70 cigarettes a day, in one book he was recorded as drinking a total of 45 different alcoholic drinks, and his relationships with women were short, inevitably one-sided and often violent.

[00:12:31] The early films had characteristics of this James Bond. He smoked, drank a lot, and inevitably encountered a lot of women on his adventures.

[00:12:43] In the early films, and even up to the 1970s, Bond would make racist remarks, hit women, force himself upon women and behave in a way that would get him into a lot of trouble today.

[00:12:58] As this type of behaviour started to become unacceptable, James Bond changed.

[00:13:05] In 1995 he stopped smoking, although he does smoke a cigar in Die Another Day.

[00:13:13] He has also cut back on the drinking, although those of you who have seen the most recent film might find that hard to believe.

[00:13:22] He still, of course, has a troubled relationship with women, although the James Bond of the past 25 years does seem capable of more affection than the James Bond of the early 1960s.

[00:13:36] As a sign of the changing times, James Bond’s boss, “M”, was first a woman in the 1995 film Goldeneye. And there seems to be a very real conversation about whether James Bond, or rather the protagonist in the James Bond films, always needs to be the white man of Ian Fleming’s books in the 1950s.

[00:14:01] Now, moving on to the business of James Bond, the production of the films has been very tightly controlled really by a very small group of people ever since the first film, Dr No, in 1962.

[00:14:16] A man called Harry Salzman had bought the rights to turn the James Bond novels into films for a total of $50,000, plus an extra $100,000 for every book that would become a film.

[00:14:31] He teamed up, he got together, with a film producer called Cubby Broccoli, and they structured a deal whereby they would get up to 60% of the profits from the films. 

[00:14:45] Salzman ended up going bankrupt and having to sell his percentage to the film studio, United Artists, leaving Cubby Broccoli to have creative control of most of the production as well as taking home around 10% of the profits of every James Bond film made ever since.

[00:15:07] The Broccoli family continues to make money from every single film, often more than the distributors of the film do.

[00:15:15] For example, with the movie Skyfall, which grossed $1.1 billion at the box office, the distributors Sony and MGM are thought to have made $236 million between them while the Broccoli family alone made $109 million.

[00:15:36] The added complication to the business of James Bond is that Amazon recently bought MGM, and so the James Bond franchise is partly owned by the Broccoli family and partly owned now by Amazon, one of the biggest companies in the world.

[00:15:55] The Broccoli family are considered by many Bond fans to have been good custodians of the 007 tradition. They have consistently made new films, some better than others, but haven’t exploited the James Bond brand and tried to make as much money as possible, they haven’t milked it, to use the expression.

[00:16:19] The fear is that Amazon will come in and make lots of spin-offs, other movies about peripheral James Bond characters, diluting the beauty and pureness of James Bond in order to make as much money as possible.

[00:16:36] There are no signs of this happening just yet, but the fears are that James Bond goes a similar way to the Star Wars franchise, with a new movie being released every couple years, with lots of spin-offs and the true James Bond is lost somewhere along the way.

[00:16:57] Now, let’s end this exploration by looking at the language of James Bond, and start by listening to some of the unique accents that this character has had.

[00:17:09] To start, we must listen to Sean Connery, the original James Bond, and a man who grew up in Scotland, and has a deep, gravelly voice.

[00:17:20] You can always recognise Connery’s Bond as he pronounced “s” as “azshh”, so he would say “Jamessh” instead of “James”.

[00:17:31] Let's hear him in the first Bond film, Dr No. 

[00:17:36] Yes. Tell me Ms. Trench do play any other games. I mean, besides Chemin de fer? 

[00:17:45] Hmm...golf...amongst other things..

[00:17:46] One afternoon then? 

[00:17:48] Tomorrow. 

[00:17:49] And, will you have dinner afterwards, perhaps?

[00:17:55] Sean Connery tones down his Scottish accent for James Bond, he makes it less evident, and he speaks with a sort of Received Pronunciation, but you can still hear the slight accent coming out.

[00:18:12] To help you compare it, here is Sean Connery’s real accent, here’s him talking about Bond again.

[00:18:20] The ingredients are all there full of kind of movie that people want to see as it has. Very good entertaining value. Uh, for example, it's a spectrum of actors. I mean, from myself to Daniel Craig, who I thought was fantastic, marvelous. 

[00:18:37] Now, Roger Moore, the actor who has played Bond in the most films, has a very different accent. He grew up in London and southern England, and spoke with a classic Received Pronunciation accent. Here's Roger Moore:

[00:18:54] In my country, major, the condemned man is usually allowed a final request. 

[00:18:59] Granted.

[00:19:01] Let's get out of these wet things. 

[00:19:03] And then finally, let’s have a listen to Daniel Craig, who also has an English accent, but it is less posh than Roger Moore’s. Here’s him ordering 007’s signature drink:

[00:19:18] The name is Bond, James Bond. Dry martini, wait, three messages with Gordon's. One of the vodka half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice. And then add a thin slice of lemon. 

[00:19:34] And finally, let’s not forget that James Bond also has a greater talent than most English people for learning languages. 

[00:19:44] The films and books have him speaking fluent French, Italian and German, a bit of Russian, Greek, Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish. So, along with being certainly the UK’s most famous spy, this might make him one of the UK’s most talented linguists.

[00:20:02] But I have to say his accents aren't that great, or at least the accents that the actors have when they're speaking foreign languages aren't great. Here's a few examples.

[00:20:15] [SPEAKING GERMAN] 

[00:20:28] [ Speaking Russian] 

[00:20:35] Now, as we often do in these episodes, it’s worth reflecting on the future of James Bond, and on the movie franchise

[00:20:44] When the books were first written, it was the height of the Cold War, people were fascinated by this idea of spies, and Fleming, with James Bond, really popularised this idea of the lone spy stopping some terrible despot, some terrible bad person, from committing an awful crime, and normally having a lot of fun in the process.

[00:21:11] The genre got a little tired at various points, especially towards the end of the Pierce Brosnan era, and it took hard work from Daniel Craig to revive it, making James Bond a complex character with plenty of demons, anxieties and even neuroses.

[00:21:33] Instead of having standalone movies, more recent Bond films all link together, more like an extended Netflix series than a standalone movie. Audiences are more demanding now, they do want that complexity of character, and James Bond has had to adapt to the times.

[00:21:55] No Time To Die was Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond, and I for one, am very excited to learn about what will happen in the next chapter of the UK’s most famous secret service agent.

[00:22:11] OK then, that is it for today's episode on James Bond.

[00:22:16] I hope it's been an interesting one, and that you've learnt something new.

[00:22:21] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:22:25] Who is your favourite James Bond. and why? And what do you think the future holds for James Bond?

[00:22:32] For the members among you, you can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:22:42] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:22:47] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

Continue learning

Get immediate access to a more interesting way of improving your English
Become a member
Already a member? Login

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about James Bond. 

[00:00:27] Now, you have probably seen some of the movies, you may have read some of the books, but today we are going to go a little bit deeper into the story of this iconic British spy.

[00:00:40] We’ll talk about how James Bond got started, and the life and times of the author of the James Bond novels, Ian Fleming.

[00:00:49] We’ll then talk about the films, how not only the James Bond actors have changed over the years and for what reasons, but also the character of James Bond.

[00:01:00] We’ll also talk about the unusual business of James Bond, and how, although it is a huge, multinational franchise and its films are shown in countries all over the world, the production is controlled by a small family, it’s essentially a family business.

[00:01:19] And finally, because this is after all a show about English, we’ll talk about the language of James Bond, the various different accents he has had, and also how he speaks various foreign languages to different degrees.

[00:01:35] OK then, Bond, James Bond.

[00:01:39] When you hear the name “James Bond”, a certain image probably comes to mind.

[00:01:46] For many it might be a man in a smart tuxedo, a black dinner jacket. He might be sitting at a card table, he might be holding a gun, he might be about to seduce an elegant woman or about to jump out of an aeroplane.

[00:02:04] He is undoubtedly handsome, and likely has a certain type of rugged, a rough look, as if he has known danger.

[00:02:15] The exact image you have in mind probably depends on your age, and is due to the actor who played James Bond when you were growing up.

[00:02:26] But the real James Bond, who James Bond was really meant to be, was the creation of Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series of books.

[00:02:38] Ian Fleming was, in many ways, a quintessential upper-class Englishman. 

[00:02:44] Born in 1907, he came from a very rich family, and was educated at Eton, the most famous private school in the country and the school that countless Kings, Prime Ministers, and other members of the royal family went to.

[00:03:02] After serving in the Naval Intelligence Division in the Second World War, he developed a knowledge of how British Intelligence services worked.

[00:03:12] After the end of the war, he worked in journalism, but longed to write a spy novel.

[00:03:19] He started work on his first one in February 1952, an idea that was to become Casino Royale, his first novel, his first hit, and the start of the most successful spy franchise in world history.

[00:03:37] Much like many books that we now consider to be huge successes, the first James Bond novel wasn’t an immediate hit with the publishers. Fleming was advised to publish it under a pseudonym, under a pen name, to avoid personal embarrassment

[00:03:57] It was only after the intervention of Fleming’s brother, who was a relatively successful author, that a publisher finally agreed to publish it. It was so successful that three different print runs had to be made, it was evident that Fleming was on to something.

[00:04:17] He continued to write the adventures of James Bond, publishing 14 separate adventures of this iconic British spy.

[00:04:26] Fleming’s creation was, in many ways, very different from the James Bond that you might be imagining from the James Bond films.

[00:04:37] In the James Bond books, yes James Bond is the protagonist but the character James Bond is less developed than he is in some of the films. 

[00:04:48] To quote Fleming directly, “exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure—an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.”

[00:05:04] The James Bond of the novels was a machine, a blank canvas, the reader saw the adventures through his eyes, but there was little examination of the character of the protagonist.

[00:05:19] This was, interestingly enough, why his name was chosen to be James Bond.

[00:05:25] You may know that both James and Bond are relatively common names in Britain. 

[00:05:33] Fleming chose these two common names for his main character precisely because he wanted him to blend into the background, to be anonymous against the backdrop of the adventures he was living.

[00:05:48] To quote Fleming again, "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find”.

[00:05:56] The James Bond of the Bond novels was also much more aggressive, fighting, drinking, smoking, he was very different to the James Bond played by someone like Pierce Brosnan, for example.

[00:06:12] The novels did bring Ian Fleming success and fame, but they didn’t really translate into the great riches that many might think.

[00:06:23] He sold the film rights to his first book, Casino Royale, for $1,000, today’s equivalent of around $10,000, and later sold the rights to all of his books except Casino Royale for $50k. 

[00:06:41] That’s today’s equivalent of about half a million dollars, so certainly not bad at all, but a pretty raw deal when you consider that the James Bond franchise has now generated around $14 billion on an inflation-adjusted basis, and almost everyone involved in them at a high level made considerably more money than Ian Fleming, the creator of the character.

[00:07:10] Fleming died in 1964, at the age of 56. Like his most famous creation, he had been a heavy drinker and smoker all of his adult life, and died of a heart attack after a large meal.

[00:07:27] His reported last words were very English, he said to the paramedics in the ambulance, "I am sorry to trouble you, chaps. I don't know how you get along so fast with the traffic on the roads these days."

[00:07:42] Now, Fleming died just as the Bond franchise was getting going, but not before he had had the opportunity to see the first film adaptation of his creation, the 1962 movie Dr No, with Sean Connery as James Bond.

[00:08:00] Although many Bond fans would argue that Sean Connery is James Bond, and that he is the best actor to have ever been 007, when he was first suggested for the part Fleming was not convinced.

[00:08:16] For starters, Sean Connery is Scottish, and speaks with a Scottish accent.

[00:08:23] The character James Bond did have a Scottish father and a Swiss mother, but the novels have him growing up in England, going to the same school that Fleming attended, Eton, and living in England. 

[00:08:38] Fleming’s Bond was decidedly English, and the idea that a Scottish actor would play him was concerning to Fleming.

[00:08:49] Secondly, at least before the film was released and Sean Connery was catapulted to stardom, he was not considered to be a sophisticated, suave gentleman.

[00:09:02] Connery was tall, muscly, and had actually been an amateur bodybuilder in his home country. He was a relatively unknown actor, and he didn’t look at all like how Fleming had imagined Bond when he was creating the character.

[00:09:20] However, after the auditions, and after seeing him in action Fleming’s mind was changed, and Connery’s sex appeal and deep voice was enough to convince Fleming that this man could pass as the English spy.

[00:09:36] As you probably know, Connery’s performance was very well received, he went on to play James Bond another five times, and for anyone growing up in the 1960s, Sean Connery simply was James Bond.

[00:09:53] Since Sean Connery a total of 5 different actors have played James Bond in the James Bond films, and six actors if you include David Niven, the actor who played James Bond in the TV adaptation of Casino Royale in 1967.

[00:10:11] They all have their different quirks, their different characteristics, and the actors interpreted the character of James Bond differently.

[00:10:21] Roger Moore, for example, who played 007 from 1973 until 1985, for a total of 7 movies, played a slightly comical, tongue-in-cheek Bond, one who cracked jokes and was never particularly serious. He was also a much older James Bond - he was 57 during the filming of his last Bond film, A View To A Kill.

[00:10:49] The Irishman Pierce Brosnan, who played Bond from 1995 to 2002 brought back a slick Bond, but by the final films critics complained about too much product placement and completely unrealistic special effects.

[00:11:08] Then there is Daniel Craig, the actor who has played James Bond since Casino Royale in 2006, and whose last Bond film, No Time To Die, was released in Autumn of 2021. He was greatly influenced by Sean Connery’s performance as Bond, and brought back a complicated character full of his own demons.

[00:11:33] Seasoned Bond fans will note I haven’t mentioned George Lazenby or Timothy Dalton here, but they only made three films between them, and rarely come top of anyone’s list of the greatest or most influential actors to have played James Bond.

[00:11:50] We can see, through the different actors who have played 007, how society and culture has changed over the past 70 years.

[00:12:00] The initial James Bond character of the novels was a hard-living man of the 1950s with views and behaviour we would probably consider misogynistic and backward.

[00:12:14] He would smoke up to 70 cigarettes a day, in one book he was recorded as drinking a total of 45 different alcoholic drinks, and his relationships with women were short, inevitably one-sided and often violent.

[00:12:31] The early films had characteristics of this James Bond. He smoked, drank a lot, and inevitably encountered a lot of women on his adventures.

[00:12:43] In the early films, and even up to the 1970s, Bond would make racist remarks, hit women, force himself upon women and behave in a way that would get him into a lot of trouble today.

[00:12:58] As this type of behaviour started to become unacceptable, James Bond changed.

[00:13:05] In 1995 he stopped smoking, although he does smoke a cigar in Die Another Day.

[00:13:13] He has also cut back on the drinking, although those of you who have seen the most recent film might find that hard to believe.

[00:13:22] He still, of course, has a troubled relationship with women, although the James Bond of the past 25 years does seem capable of more affection than the James Bond of the early 1960s.

[00:13:36] As a sign of the changing times, James Bond’s boss, “M”, was first a woman in the 1995 film Goldeneye. And there seems to be a very real conversation about whether James Bond, or rather the protagonist in the James Bond films, always needs to be the white man of Ian Fleming’s books in the 1950s.

[00:14:01] Now, moving on to the business of James Bond, the production of the films has been very tightly controlled really by a very small group of people ever since the first film, Dr No, in 1962.

[00:14:16] A man called Harry Salzman had bought the rights to turn the James Bond novels into films for a total of $50,000, plus an extra $100,000 for every book that would become a film.

[00:14:31] He teamed up, he got together, with a film producer called Cubby Broccoli, and they structured a deal whereby they would get up to 60% of the profits from the films. 

[00:14:45] Salzman ended up going bankrupt and having to sell his percentage to the film studio, United Artists, leaving Cubby Broccoli to have creative control of most of the production as well as taking home around 10% of the profits of every James Bond film made ever since.

[00:15:07] The Broccoli family continues to make money from every single film, often more than the distributors of the film do.

[00:15:15] For example, with the movie Skyfall, which grossed $1.1 billion at the box office, the distributors Sony and MGM are thought to have made $236 million between them while the Broccoli family alone made $109 million.

[00:15:36] The added complication to the business of James Bond is that Amazon recently bought MGM, and so the James Bond franchise is partly owned by the Broccoli family and partly owned now by Amazon, one of the biggest companies in the world.

[00:15:55] The Broccoli family are considered by many Bond fans to have been good custodians of the 007 tradition. They have consistently made new films, some better than others, but haven’t exploited the James Bond brand and tried to make as much money as possible, they haven’t milked it, to use the expression.

[00:16:19] The fear is that Amazon will come in and make lots of spin-offs, other movies about peripheral James Bond characters, diluting the beauty and pureness of James Bond in order to make as much money as possible.

[00:16:36] There are no signs of this happening just yet, but the fears are that James Bond goes a similar way to the Star Wars franchise, with a new movie being released every couple years, with lots of spin-offs and the true James Bond is lost somewhere along the way.

[00:16:57] Now, let’s end this exploration by looking at the language of James Bond, and start by listening to some of the unique accents that this character has had.

[00:17:09] To start, we must listen to Sean Connery, the original James Bond, and a man who grew up in Scotland, and has a deep, gravelly voice.

[00:17:20] You can always recognise Connery’s Bond as he pronounced “s” as “azshh”, so he would say “Jamessh” instead of “James”.

[00:17:31] Let's hear him in the first Bond film, Dr No. 

[00:17:36] Yes. Tell me Ms. Trench do play any other games. I mean, besides Chemin de fer? 

[00:17:45] Hmm...golf...amongst other things..

[00:17:46] One afternoon then? 

[00:17:48] Tomorrow. 

[00:17:49] And, will you have dinner afterwards, perhaps?

[00:17:55] Sean Connery tones down his Scottish accent for James Bond, he makes it less evident, and he speaks with a sort of Received Pronunciation, but you can still hear the slight accent coming out.

[00:18:12] To help you compare it, here is Sean Connery’s real accent, here’s him talking about Bond again.

[00:18:20] The ingredients are all there full of kind of movie that people want to see as it has. Very good entertaining value. Uh, for example, it's a spectrum of actors. I mean, from myself to Daniel Craig, who I thought was fantastic, marvelous. 

[00:18:37] Now, Roger Moore, the actor who has played Bond in the most films, has a very different accent. He grew up in London and southern England, and spoke with a classic Received Pronunciation accent. Here's Roger Moore:

[00:18:54] In my country, major, the condemned man is usually allowed a final request. 

[00:18:59] Granted.

[00:19:01] Let's get out of these wet things. 

[00:19:03] And then finally, let’s have a listen to Daniel Craig, who also has an English accent, but it is less posh than Roger Moore’s. Here’s him ordering 007’s signature drink:

[00:19:18] The name is Bond, James Bond. Dry martini, wait, three messages with Gordon's. One of the vodka half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice. And then add a thin slice of lemon. 

[00:19:34] And finally, let’s not forget that James Bond also has a greater talent than most English people for learning languages. 

[00:19:44] The films and books have him speaking fluent French, Italian and German, a bit of Russian, Greek, Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish. So, along with being certainly the UK’s most famous spy, this might make him one of the UK’s most talented linguists.

[00:20:02] But I have to say his accents aren't that great, or at least the accents that the actors have when they're speaking foreign languages aren't great. Here's a few examples.

[00:20:15] [SPEAKING GERMAN] 

[00:20:28] [ Speaking Russian] 

[00:20:35] Now, as we often do in these episodes, it’s worth reflecting on the future of James Bond, and on the movie franchise

[00:20:44] When the books were first written, it was the height of the Cold War, people were fascinated by this idea of spies, and Fleming, with James Bond, really popularised this idea of the lone spy stopping some terrible despot, some terrible bad person, from committing an awful crime, and normally having a lot of fun in the process.

[00:21:11] The genre got a little tired at various points, especially towards the end of the Pierce Brosnan era, and it took hard work from Daniel Craig to revive it, making James Bond a complex character with plenty of demons, anxieties and even neuroses.

[00:21:33] Instead of having standalone movies, more recent Bond films all link together, more like an extended Netflix series than a standalone movie. Audiences are more demanding now, they do want that complexity of character, and James Bond has had to adapt to the times.

[00:21:55] No Time To Die was Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond, and I for one, am very excited to learn about what will happen in the next chapter of the UK’s most famous secret service agent.

[00:22:11] OK then, that is it for today's episode on James Bond.

[00:22:16] I hope it's been an interesting one, and that you've learnt something new.

[00:22:21] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:22:25] Who is your favourite James Bond. and why? And what do you think the future holds for James Bond?

[00:22:32] For the members among you, you can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:22:42] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:22:47] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about James Bond. 

[00:00:27] Now, you have probably seen some of the movies, you may have read some of the books, but today we are going to go a little bit deeper into the story of this iconic British spy.

[00:00:40] We’ll talk about how James Bond got started, and the life and times of the author of the James Bond novels, Ian Fleming.

[00:00:49] We’ll then talk about the films, how not only the James Bond actors have changed over the years and for what reasons, but also the character of James Bond.

[00:01:00] We’ll also talk about the unusual business of James Bond, and how, although it is a huge, multinational franchise and its films are shown in countries all over the world, the production is controlled by a small family, it’s essentially a family business.

[00:01:19] And finally, because this is after all a show about English, we’ll talk about the language of James Bond, the various different accents he has had, and also how he speaks various foreign languages to different degrees.

[00:01:35] OK then, Bond, James Bond.

[00:01:39] When you hear the name “James Bond”, a certain image probably comes to mind.

[00:01:46] For many it might be a man in a smart tuxedo, a black dinner jacket. He might be sitting at a card table, he might be holding a gun, he might be about to seduce an elegant woman or about to jump out of an aeroplane.

[00:02:04] He is undoubtedly handsome, and likely has a certain type of rugged, a rough look, as if he has known danger.

[00:02:15] The exact image you have in mind probably depends on your age, and is due to the actor who played James Bond when you were growing up.

[00:02:26] But the real James Bond, who James Bond was really meant to be, was the creation of Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series of books.

[00:02:38] Ian Fleming was, in many ways, a quintessential upper-class Englishman. 

[00:02:44] Born in 1907, he came from a very rich family, and was educated at Eton, the most famous private school in the country and the school that countless Kings, Prime Ministers, and other members of the royal family went to.

[00:03:02] After serving in the Naval Intelligence Division in the Second World War, he developed a knowledge of how British Intelligence services worked.

[00:03:12] After the end of the war, he worked in journalism, but longed to write a spy novel.

[00:03:19] He started work on his first one in February 1952, an idea that was to become Casino Royale, his first novel, his first hit, and the start of the most successful spy franchise in world history.

[00:03:37] Much like many books that we now consider to be huge successes, the first James Bond novel wasn’t an immediate hit with the publishers. Fleming was advised to publish it under a pseudonym, under a pen name, to avoid personal embarrassment

[00:03:57] It was only after the intervention of Fleming’s brother, who was a relatively successful author, that a publisher finally agreed to publish it. It was so successful that three different print runs had to be made, it was evident that Fleming was on to something.

[00:04:17] He continued to write the adventures of James Bond, publishing 14 separate adventures of this iconic British spy.

[00:04:26] Fleming’s creation was, in many ways, very different from the James Bond that you might be imagining from the James Bond films.

[00:04:37] In the James Bond books, yes James Bond is the protagonist but the character James Bond is less developed than he is in some of the films. 

[00:04:48] To quote Fleming directly, “exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure—an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.”

[00:05:04] The James Bond of the novels was a machine, a blank canvas, the reader saw the adventures through his eyes, but there was little examination of the character of the protagonist.

[00:05:19] This was, interestingly enough, why his name was chosen to be James Bond.

[00:05:25] You may know that both James and Bond are relatively common names in Britain. 

[00:05:33] Fleming chose these two common names for his main character precisely because he wanted him to blend into the background, to be anonymous against the backdrop of the adventures he was living.

[00:05:48] To quote Fleming again, "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find”.

[00:05:56] The James Bond of the Bond novels was also much more aggressive, fighting, drinking, smoking, he was very different to the James Bond played by someone like Pierce Brosnan, for example.

[00:06:12] The novels did bring Ian Fleming success and fame, but they didn’t really translate into the great riches that many might think.

[00:06:23] He sold the film rights to his first book, Casino Royale, for $1,000, today’s equivalent of around $10,000, and later sold the rights to all of his books except Casino Royale for $50k. 

[00:06:41] That’s today’s equivalent of about half a million dollars, so certainly not bad at all, but a pretty raw deal when you consider that the James Bond franchise has now generated around $14 billion on an inflation-adjusted basis, and almost everyone involved in them at a high level made considerably more money than Ian Fleming, the creator of the character.

[00:07:10] Fleming died in 1964, at the age of 56. Like his most famous creation, he had been a heavy drinker and smoker all of his adult life, and died of a heart attack after a large meal.

[00:07:27] His reported last words were very English, he said to the paramedics in the ambulance, "I am sorry to trouble you, chaps. I don't know how you get along so fast with the traffic on the roads these days."

[00:07:42] Now, Fleming died just as the Bond franchise was getting going, but not before he had had the opportunity to see the first film adaptation of his creation, the 1962 movie Dr No, with Sean Connery as James Bond.

[00:08:00] Although many Bond fans would argue that Sean Connery is James Bond, and that he is the best actor to have ever been 007, when he was first suggested for the part Fleming was not convinced.

[00:08:16] For starters, Sean Connery is Scottish, and speaks with a Scottish accent.

[00:08:23] The character James Bond did have a Scottish father and a Swiss mother, but the novels have him growing up in England, going to the same school that Fleming attended, Eton, and living in England. 

[00:08:38] Fleming’s Bond was decidedly English, and the idea that a Scottish actor would play him was concerning to Fleming.

[00:08:49] Secondly, at least before the film was released and Sean Connery was catapulted to stardom, he was not considered to be a sophisticated, suave gentleman.

[00:09:02] Connery was tall, muscly, and had actually been an amateur bodybuilder in his home country. He was a relatively unknown actor, and he didn’t look at all like how Fleming had imagined Bond when he was creating the character.

[00:09:20] However, after the auditions, and after seeing him in action Fleming’s mind was changed, and Connery’s sex appeal and deep voice was enough to convince Fleming that this man could pass as the English spy.

[00:09:36] As you probably know, Connery’s performance was very well received, he went on to play James Bond another five times, and for anyone growing up in the 1960s, Sean Connery simply was James Bond.

[00:09:53] Since Sean Connery a total of 5 different actors have played James Bond in the James Bond films, and six actors if you include David Niven, the actor who played James Bond in the TV adaptation of Casino Royale in 1967.

[00:10:11] They all have their different quirks, their different characteristics, and the actors interpreted the character of James Bond differently.

[00:10:21] Roger Moore, for example, who played 007 from 1973 until 1985, for a total of 7 movies, played a slightly comical, tongue-in-cheek Bond, one who cracked jokes and was never particularly serious. He was also a much older James Bond - he was 57 during the filming of his last Bond film, A View To A Kill.

[00:10:49] The Irishman Pierce Brosnan, who played Bond from 1995 to 2002 brought back a slick Bond, but by the final films critics complained about too much product placement and completely unrealistic special effects.

[00:11:08] Then there is Daniel Craig, the actor who has played James Bond since Casino Royale in 2006, and whose last Bond film, No Time To Die, was released in Autumn of 2021. He was greatly influenced by Sean Connery’s performance as Bond, and brought back a complicated character full of his own demons.

[00:11:33] Seasoned Bond fans will note I haven’t mentioned George Lazenby or Timothy Dalton here, but they only made three films between them, and rarely come top of anyone’s list of the greatest or most influential actors to have played James Bond.

[00:11:50] We can see, through the different actors who have played 007, how society and culture has changed over the past 70 years.

[00:12:00] The initial James Bond character of the novels was a hard-living man of the 1950s with views and behaviour we would probably consider misogynistic and backward.

[00:12:14] He would smoke up to 70 cigarettes a day, in one book he was recorded as drinking a total of 45 different alcoholic drinks, and his relationships with women were short, inevitably one-sided and often violent.

[00:12:31] The early films had characteristics of this James Bond. He smoked, drank a lot, and inevitably encountered a lot of women on his adventures.

[00:12:43] In the early films, and even up to the 1970s, Bond would make racist remarks, hit women, force himself upon women and behave in a way that would get him into a lot of trouble today.

[00:12:58] As this type of behaviour started to become unacceptable, James Bond changed.

[00:13:05] In 1995 he stopped smoking, although he does smoke a cigar in Die Another Day.

[00:13:13] He has also cut back on the drinking, although those of you who have seen the most recent film might find that hard to believe.

[00:13:22] He still, of course, has a troubled relationship with women, although the James Bond of the past 25 years does seem capable of more affection than the James Bond of the early 1960s.

[00:13:36] As a sign of the changing times, James Bond’s boss, “M”, was first a woman in the 1995 film Goldeneye. And there seems to be a very real conversation about whether James Bond, or rather the protagonist in the James Bond films, always needs to be the white man of Ian Fleming’s books in the 1950s.

[00:14:01] Now, moving on to the business of James Bond, the production of the films has been very tightly controlled really by a very small group of people ever since the first film, Dr No, in 1962.

[00:14:16] A man called Harry Salzman had bought the rights to turn the James Bond novels into films for a total of $50,000, plus an extra $100,000 for every book that would become a film.

[00:14:31] He teamed up, he got together, with a film producer called Cubby Broccoli, and they structured a deal whereby they would get up to 60% of the profits from the films. 

[00:14:45] Salzman ended up going bankrupt and having to sell his percentage to the film studio, United Artists, leaving Cubby Broccoli to have creative control of most of the production as well as taking home around 10% of the profits of every James Bond film made ever since.

[00:15:07] The Broccoli family continues to make money from every single film, often more than the distributors of the film do.

[00:15:15] For example, with the movie Skyfall, which grossed $1.1 billion at the box office, the distributors Sony and MGM are thought to have made $236 million between them while the Broccoli family alone made $109 million.

[00:15:36] The added complication to the business of James Bond is that Amazon recently bought MGM, and so the James Bond franchise is partly owned by the Broccoli family and partly owned now by Amazon, one of the biggest companies in the world.

[00:15:55] The Broccoli family are considered by many Bond fans to have been good custodians of the 007 tradition. They have consistently made new films, some better than others, but haven’t exploited the James Bond brand and tried to make as much money as possible, they haven’t milked it, to use the expression.

[00:16:19] The fear is that Amazon will come in and make lots of spin-offs, other movies about peripheral James Bond characters, diluting the beauty and pureness of James Bond in order to make as much money as possible.

[00:16:36] There are no signs of this happening just yet, but the fears are that James Bond goes a similar way to the Star Wars franchise, with a new movie being released every couple years, with lots of spin-offs and the true James Bond is lost somewhere along the way.

[00:16:57] Now, let’s end this exploration by looking at the language of James Bond, and start by listening to some of the unique accents that this character has had.

[00:17:09] To start, we must listen to Sean Connery, the original James Bond, and a man who grew up in Scotland, and has a deep, gravelly voice.

[00:17:20] You can always recognise Connery’s Bond as he pronounced “s” as “azshh”, so he would say “Jamessh” instead of “James”.

[00:17:31] Let's hear him in the first Bond film, Dr No. 

[00:17:36] Yes. Tell me Ms. Trench do play any other games. I mean, besides Chemin de fer? 

[00:17:45] Hmm...golf...amongst other things..

[00:17:46] One afternoon then? 

[00:17:48] Tomorrow. 

[00:17:49] And, will you have dinner afterwards, perhaps?

[00:17:55] Sean Connery tones down his Scottish accent for James Bond, he makes it less evident, and he speaks with a sort of Received Pronunciation, but you can still hear the slight accent coming out.

[00:18:12] To help you compare it, here is Sean Connery’s real accent, here’s him talking about Bond again.

[00:18:20] The ingredients are all there full of kind of movie that people want to see as it has. Very good entertaining value. Uh, for example, it's a spectrum of actors. I mean, from myself to Daniel Craig, who I thought was fantastic, marvelous. 

[00:18:37] Now, Roger Moore, the actor who has played Bond in the most films, has a very different accent. He grew up in London and southern England, and spoke with a classic Received Pronunciation accent. Here's Roger Moore:

[00:18:54] In my country, major, the condemned man is usually allowed a final request. 

[00:18:59] Granted.

[00:19:01] Let's get out of these wet things. 

[00:19:03] And then finally, let’s have a listen to Daniel Craig, who also has an English accent, but it is less posh than Roger Moore’s. Here’s him ordering 007’s signature drink:

[00:19:18] The name is Bond, James Bond. Dry martini, wait, three messages with Gordon's. One of the vodka half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice. And then add a thin slice of lemon. 

[00:19:34] And finally, let’s not forget that James Bond also has a greater talent than most English people for learning languages. 

[00:19:44] The films and books have him speaking fluent French, Italian and German, a bit of Russian, Greek, Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish. So, along with being certainly the UK’s most famous spy, this might make him one of the UK’s most talented linguists.

[00:20:02] But I have to say his accents aren't that great, or at least the accents that the actors have when they're speaking foreign languages aren't great. Here's a few examples.

[00:20:15] [SPEAKING GERMAN] 

[00:20:28] [ Speaking Russian] 

[00:20:35] Now, as we often do in these episodes, it’s worth reflecting on the future of James Bond, and on the movie franchise

[00:20:44] When the books were first written, it was the height of the Cold War, people were fascinated by this idea of spies, and Fleming, with James Bond, really popularised this idea of the lone spy stopping some terrible despot, some terrible bad person, from committing an awful crime, and normally having a lot of fun in the process.

[00:21:11] The genre got a little tired at various points, especially towards the end of the Pierce Brosnan era, and it took hard work from Daniel Craig to revive it, making James Bond a complex character with plenty of demons, anxieties and even neuroses.

[00:21:33] Instead of having standalone movies, more recent Bond films all link together, more like an extended Netflix series than a standalone movie. Audiences are more demanding now, they do want that complexity of character, and James Bond has had to adapt to the times.

[00:21:55] No Time To Die was Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond, and I for one, am very excited to learn about what will happen in the next chapter of the UK’s most famous secret service agent.

[00:22:11] OK then, that is it for today's episode on James Bond.

[00:22:16] I hope it's been an interesting one, and that you've learnt something new.

[00:22:21] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:22:25] Who is your favourite James Bond. and why? And what do you think the future holds for James Bond?

[00:22:32] For the members among you, you can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:22:42] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:22:47] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]